Irish Roots

John Grenham

June 15th


Since writing about Google maps last week, I've ended up spending a lot of time using another map service that incorporates Google. The Library Council’s free online version of Griffith’s Valuation, at www.askaboutireland.ie, also includes a complete set of the 6" 1842 Ordnance Survey maps that link with the Valuation, and make it possible, in theory at least, to pinpoint precise land holdings as recorded in the mid nineteenth century.

This is excellent in itself - the 1842 OS maps are a superb local and family history source, showing graveyards, raths, rundale villages, big houses, wooded areas, holy wells and much more. But the Council version adds another dimension, by presenting them as overlays of contemporary Google maps. The result gives excellent reference points to modern roads and towns, as well as providing satellite imagery detailed enough (in some parts of the country at any rate) to identify and locate the remains of features recorded in 1842 but now gone.

There are plenty of nits to be picked: it can be very slow, even with a fast broadband connection. The place name search (and the surname search, indeed) are frustratingly rigid, not permitting any wild-cards. There are some glaring mistakes in the links between places and maps - clicking on the map link for some parts of North Co. Dublin takes you to East Cork, for example. The only way to switch quickly from the OS map to Google is by opening a separate browser window.

But no research is much fun if it doesn’t involve some creative rummaging around. The most important point is that the complete 1842 collection appears to be all there, and all linked to Google's contemporary maps. And my heart goes out to whoever had to manually stitch together the entire 6" collection to cover the island.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.


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